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I had an interesting conversation with Jeremy Cowart and Caroline from Paloma’s Nest at our launch party dinner this past Friday about checking email first thing in the morning. It really got me thinking about how much work rules my life and how hard it is to find balance when you feel pulled in 1000 directions.  Admittedly, I am hard on myself, but I have an insatiable ambition that has created a lot of responsibility in my life.  People need things from me and I have to follow-through.  I still have a hundred flagged emails patiently waiting for my attention from last month.  They don’t seem to end.  I’m not complaining, just frustrated that some things drain the potential that I know I have to affect real change in people’s lives.  I feel like I walked the plank for the last thirty days and dove into ice-cold water somewhere in the last 24 hours.  Wake-up call.  It’s all over.  This magazine is done.  And now, the dust settles.  This month happened way too fast and I’m left feeling like I want some of that time back.

I’ve come to realize that I always leave events, including our launch party this weekend (launch party blog post to follow this), feeling regret.  Why regret?  Because, as hard as I try, I never end up getting to spend quality time with everyone I want to spend time with.  I always fear forgetting to thank someone important, remembering a face and not being able to place the name, and even not being able to simply say hello to everyone because I get pulled in so many directions.  Spending quality time with people makes me feel most fulfilled. I relish real connection, and sharing my life with people I love.  So many people do amazing things for mego so far out of their way–and I never feel like I can say enough thank you’s or give enough hugs.  As I leap into the last six weeks of my 20′s I can’t help but ask myself “how can I do this life better?”  I want to clone myself so I can be there for everyone and do the things I have on my heart to do.

My daily life is relatively boring by most standards. You’ve been warned. Read further if you think my life is glamorous. The real deal: I’m grateful for my work, but it rules most everything I do. I sleep with earplugs in every night.  Jeremy, Caroline and I talked about how if we wake up in the middle of the night, our minds start stirring about work and there’s no falling back asleep.  What is it about creative driven people?  I crack open one eye (typically just before my alarm goes off) and reach for my iPhone. I check texts first and emails even before I can get both eyes open. I check Twitter (thank you to those who are so chipper in the morning- you’re my coffee), get up and make the bed, open all the windows, and get dressed to work out. I try to get a good 45 minutes to an hour in at the gym (the whole time replying to emails and making a plan for the day) rush back to shower and then walk in my office to greet the girls. We have our morning huddle, laugh a lot all day amidst phone calls and meetings, and usually wonder how the day flies by so fast.  I do love those hours with Katharine, Emily, and Whitney.  At 5:45pm we have our afternoon huddle to plan for the next day, recount the day’s accomplishments, and then everyone goes home. It’s usually in those moments, after everyone leaves, that how much I did (or didn’t) get to during the day sinks in. Things always come up to throw my plans off for the day.  I work in a culture of the unexpected. I’ve learned to just roll with it and resolve to finish it all at night.

Depending on Ari‘s call/boxing/gym/poker-night-with-the-guys schedule, I don’t see him much except at night.  We knew this is how it would be when he entered residency, but it’s still tough.  We talk for a few minutes before he goes to the gym after work. I try not to talk too much to him about my work.  I deal with so many challenges each day that overwhelm people who aren’t used to it. To me it’s just normal business. To him, it’s emotionally taxing. This perplexes me considering he deals with dying cancer patients all day –real life– and I deal with personalities, paperwork and unending projects.  So, I keep my work issues to myself.  I work most nights till about midnight when I tuck myself into bed to check email again and read the Bible until I get sleepy.  A couple times a week I go grocery shopping (ie- I do “the grocery marathon” to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Harris Teeter.) I signed up for a membership at Massage Envy so I would force myself to at least take an hour every week to breathe.  I love that hour. Weekends Ari is usually working. I try to travel on those weekends because, honestly, it’s no fun being home alone.  Rather than get out and be social if I’m here by myself, I tend to, well… work.  I warned you before about this post, friends.  My daily life, even though I’m a very content grateful person, is intense yet not so glamorous.  My staff can attest that I never even bother to wear makeup.  I shower and throw on jeans and a t-shirt most of the time.  I think Ari has seen me in makeup 3 times in the last 6 months.  When I travel or go to events, I make myself take the time to do my hair and get dressed.  Most people think I am always decked out because those are the only pictures that get posted anywhere.  Granted, I love getting gussied up for a night or two.  It’s like playing dress up and it makes you feel good.  But, I’m always happy to come home and put the heels on a shelf for a while.

Now that this issue of the magazine is out, people are already asking me “what’s next?”  I’m about to make a big confession here and in making it, I know I’m starting to turn the wheels of change in my life: I need to get a life.  Yes, we’re completely redoing the SW site and already working on the next issue that comes out on Valentine’s Day, but I have a full roster of consulting clients that I want to devote more time to and a nagging feeling that I’m not really living.   My rep clients are where my work heart is and I frankly haven’t had enough space in my life for them recently because of the magazine.  For those of you who know me well, you know I’m not just going to put something out that I am not 100% invested in.  I had to get this magazine done and done well.  We prepped this issue for a long while, but because of how busy I’ve been, I was forced to lay it out in 11 days.  The last one took me 11 weeks.  Remember that blog post I wrote about how I was feeling rested and making sure not to over-work?  Yeah, that was funny.  Minus those 11 days, I was doing really well.  I stayed up till 6am five out of those eleven days and nearly thought I would faint from exhaustion at least ten of those days.  Thank God it’s done.  I won’t lie and say that next I’m slowing down.  I’ll take this week to sleep a little more and reflect, but I know myself better than that.  I’m refocusing.  I’m changing.  I’m doing a lot of praying.

This whole last month was a miracle.  I remember twittering “dear miracles, I need a few of you today.”  Well, I certainly got more than one.  Truth:  I didn’t think this issue would happen.  It did… mostly thanks to these amazing ladies and daily encouragement from so many generous friends.  Two weeks ago, I didn’t think we’d have a launch party.  Thanks to Rebecca and countless others, we certainly did.  I didn’t think I’d have any energy to celebrate at the launch party.  (please refer back to staying up till 6am working and feeling like I was going to pass out from exhaustion) When the Mammoth Men transformed the after party into the best dance party I’ve ever experienced and I was surrounded by all the people I love most, I felt the weight of the world fall off my shoulders.  They have no idea how much that meant to me… to just let loose and dance away everything you just read.  It felt like pure gold.  I didn’t think I’d love this issue.  I don’t yet (there’s the hyper-critical in me again), but I’m head over heels for the cover.  I can’t stop staring at it.  Thank you for that, Jeremy.  I didn’t think I’d write any of this, but something in me knows I need to.  I need to get this out so I don’t waste any more time feeling regret.

I know this post is all over the place and I could try to re-write it so it isn’t, but this is just how I feel right now.  I’m invigorated, tired, relieved, hopeful, sad, excited, restless, madly in love, and so grateful and humbled that it brings me to tears.  My best friend told me to go to the playground and slide down the slide, feel like a kid again and just relax a little now that the issue is done. My husband told me the same thing.  My mom told me the same thing.  I’m not really sure what to do yet but I know I need to do something. You’re all going to tell me to just take a day off and “slow down.” I could do that, but it’s not a long-term solution. I’m not looking for a vacation, I’m contemplating a complete change in how I approach my life’s work so I don’t allow myself to enter the “11 days mode.” I want to feel the freedom of being at the playground, letting go, yet still harnessing the creative gifts I’ve been given that help other people flourish in life.

Thank you to the people who celebrated with us this week.  My words don’t do justice to how blessed I feel to have such support and encouragement.  I have much more to say but for now, it’s time for work.

xo lc

P.S. my mom took this pic with her old Minolta film camera right after a storm outside of our house in Florida recently.  There’s a storm brewing in the gulf right now and my mom is having a pretty significant (non-life threatening, so don’t worry) surgery tomorrow.  I wish I was there with her.  This picture makes me think of the brilliant calm that God gives us after we’ve weathered the storm.  Thanks for this, Mom.  I love you.

P.S.S. this.

Show Comments (15)
  1. nicole riley

    how refreshing to hear you speak so candidly about your everyday life. we all get so bogged down in the details, it’s easy to loose sight of the overall picture. let’s go find a slide ;)

  2. Khadine

    I’m quite sure everyone at some point in their lived have felt the way you did and do (but maybe not on the magnitide that you have, with no sleep for 6 days, I might have had a heartattack LOL) Don’t beat up yourself. You are a very accomplished 31 year old. Many people can’t say they have done half of what you have done. Or even say I have lived my dreams or accomplished my goals. You have…..don’t beat up yourself. Go on that slide, have some ice cream, take a flight to go see friends. I bet you have plenty all over the world. Do something crazy..not too crazy now. Have some fun. It’s all good. Certainly you have #madethingshappen and you will continue to. So don’t worry you’ll be fine…

  3. Heather at Outstanding Occasions

    Lara, it is times like these where we all need to take a deep breath and exhale. I have two sayings that I use often (which I learned abruptly in my early 20s when my dad passed away suddenly at the age of 44): “No one is dying here, so suck it up” and “Life is too short, so make sure that the people that really matter to you know it. They could be taken away at any minute of the day.” The first one allows me to have patience and perspective. The second one reminds me to cherish the loved ones in my life. I know you know all of this, because you are a brilliant gal, but I find that these two things keep me sane. I am like you, a self-confessed workaholic and I often feel like although great things are happening professionally, some days I personally feel empty inside or guilty because I haven’t spent enough time with my family. These two things allow me to focus on the important stuff and when I begin to stress about work deadlines and complain that I need to clone myself and my life is so hard and demanding. It has to be said: “No one is dying here, so suck it up!” And when I feel that there isn’t enough time in a day and I have to stay up until 2 am to complete my work and forget to read London her bedtime story or I don’t make it a priority to spend an hour with my husband, I say “Life is too short, so make sure that the people that really matter to you know it. They could be taken away at any minute of the day.” No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but these are the things that help me keep things in perspective:) Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You are awesome and you deserve a break. Spend a day with your husband or a family member (not an hour, all day) and keep the phones, computers, etc. on lockdown. They can wait for one day:) xoxo Heather

  4. SnideBride

    You have such a huge, open heart. That’s why so many gravitate toward you. There’s a level of authenticity that is rare.
    My two cents? Learn to meditate. It helps soften the constant mental chatter,and may reveal another passion. Something completely unrelated to SW, that will help you tap into your inner child. For some reason horseback riding came to mind!

  5. Kristy R.

    Loving that you shared this. The more I interact within the industry the more I realize how each of us are so similar. We are all nervous and self-conscious at times, desperately trying to balance big dreams with a fulfilling life. Thank you for taking these steps to let us all know we’re all okay!

  6. Ashley

    Thanks for posting this, Lara. I second what Kristy said. As I sit here in Starbucks trying to get my e-mail inbox below 80 e-mails (I consider this a successful day), this almost brought me to tears because it is all so real to me. This frantic pace at which we constantly run– often times forgetting the most important things and people in our lives and those around us– and that THIS LIFE is our most important asset and that it can all be gone so quickly- in a fleeting moment- yet we continue to be so critical of everything we don’t consider perfection.

    Hang in there. Remember that what you are doing is remarkable. What you have done, what you are doing and what you will do are all remarkable. Take some time and be WELL.

  7. Vania -SimplyBloom Photography, LLC

    Lara,
    I know it’s easy to say ” I know how you feel” but really, I DO know how you feel. It has taken me a year to get in so deep into what I do/love= my work, that all the habits were/are a part of ME. The overworking and stress took over. It is only very recently that I am trying to pull myself out of it step by step, just like any habit. I do it one step at a time and try not to be so hard on myself “when it’s not all completed”. If there are un-answered emails, or a million folders to be edited on my desktop, I breathe and think “one step at a time”. I think organization and priority lists have also helped me very much in managing the “overwhelming feeling”. I can’t imagine what running a magazine is like, or maybe I can- maybe it’s madness ;) but you always do such a wonderful, tasteful job, it’s quite impressive.

    Just Breathe and never hold back your creativity and strive.

    -V

  8. Julianne Smith

    um, wow! thanks for being so honest. it is refreshing and real. you’ll get to where you need to be b/c you are that driven. hang in there! thanks for sharing!

  9. Just a gal

    Lara,

    Every single you post you write here inspires me and pushes me. I know ti isn’t even about me but to see that you recognize similar issues in your life to those that I struggle with in mine makes me feel like I’m not so alone in them.

    You continue to be a massive inspiration to me and I know you will find your “life” soon and make the most of every precious moment

  10. Marti

    Your candor is refreshing and beautiful. Just remember that God calls you to certain work, but also certain rest.
    You will do what you know is right, but in the mean time? You’re a huge inspiration.

  11. Jennifer

    Just wanted to say thanks for your candor. You are an amazing inspiring woman and I can’t wait to see tranform your energy into a life instead of a never ending task list. I’ve been there-and while I wasn’t publishing a marvelous magazine, I know how easy it is to spend nearly every moment working. Cheers to you for discovering that-it’s the first step to crafting a life not merely a fulfilling existence. :)
    I’m on that path and I have to say the view is amazing!
    Many blessings!!!!!

  12. saundra

    Lara, I’ve finally gotten around to catching up on my blog reading. I worry about you burning out. Quit contemplating the change and implement, even any small changes to help you keep your health and sanity is worth it.

  13. Christopher Confero

    Isaiah 40 comes to my mind. Not only the few verses below, but the entire chapter. Read it, remember it.

    28: Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
    The LORD is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
    He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
    29: He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
    30: Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
    31: but those who hope in the LORD
    will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

    You are such a great example – - so transparent with everything you do. God will take care of you in those times that feel so heavy. I second Saundra, implement those things that keep your fire going so you don’t burn out. You have so much to share!

  14. 2009 YEAR IN REVIEW :: A JOURNEY IN PICTURES « Lara Casey

    [...] crazy time. Work work work work. With the help of my fearless colleagues, I laid out the magazine in 11 days.  Yes, that was [...]

  15. Melissa E Earle {Mee}

    Wow. What to say.
    I have come back looking through your posts, reading. 7 month old Baby is in his bed, the kid’s lunches are packed for tomorrow, I kissed my babies to bed, and my husband is making notes on a book he has been longing to read all weekend. Time is in my hands. I have a thousand and 1 things to do, and yet here I am drawn, something from deep inside of Mee, drawn to your blog, yet again.
    I am in the midst of a change. I think “a change” is a HUGE understatement. Something you said in another Blog post that stood out to you from a Fred Egan talk, “Some times we don’t have just because we don’t ask…” I had that realization hit Mee in the face a little while back. I have been letting all my fears hold Mee for so long. 12 years in fact this spring. All my fears have been holding Mee back from asking for what I truly want and have wanted.
    I did your Goal Setting, and then found Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Maps (if you can listen through the different kind of language to her point) and boy with you two, I have finally started asking.

    The only thing with asking though, is that you get what you ask for. I feel like my dreams are HUGE. I feel like I am a girl along way from home, and to be this far out of my comfort zone and still dreaming big, there must be something wrong with Mee. I am a florida girl, living in Northern Alberta (it is -41C here this weekend =COLD!) I feel I have been stretched and yet feeling like I was made for so much more, feeling like I was put here to make some radical difference , and yet I don’t know how..and here I am reading your blog.
    I feel like I want to help other people have a platform to speak their messages that are burning inside of them, I want to help them be authentic, give them grace, acceptance and encouragement to be real, true. Somehow I pick out or see the gems in other people and for a long time I have been just letting that go by…by lately I have been feeling very convicted to do something about it. I have this feeling to stand up and use my voice for good to inspire others. I am starting…this spring I am taking The B School by Marie Forleo. I am hoping it will help Mee learn how to help others use their message, their voices for good and solve world issues into world solutions. Inspire others. Wake up those around Mee who need it.

    Here come the I don’t knows….the doubts the , “I have never done this before”
    I was telling my husband, reading him a couple of the things you wrote in your posts, your honesty. From summer 2009. He said, “honey it sounds like you! She has this fire starting to churn inside of her, and you relate because a similar fire is starting to burn really strongly inside of you.”
    Oh Lara, tell Mee it gets better. Tell Mee there is a way to follow those burning dreams inside of Mee.
    From one girl to another, I wanted to leave a note and say thank you. Thank you for being so honest online. You have so helped. I hope that somehow I can do the same and help others too.
    May the light shine brightly inside of us and never go out, but shine to a dark and weary land, to our neighbours and our cities, our towns and to those of us who need refreshing. May God’s light burn so ever bright. And may he use You and Mee.
    -Mee